Scholar award recipients talk at the C200 Women in Leadership Conference. Mentors and recipients discuss the need for more female mentors and ways to spread awareness. Photo courtesy of Kimber Maderazzo
Pepperdine Graziadio School of Business hosted the bi-annual C200 Women in Leadership Conference on Feb 16. The conference gathered nearly 150 Graziadio students with a guest panel of female leaders in entertainment, finance and entrepreneurship from across the globe.
Kimber Maderazzo, Graziadio Marketing professor and chair for the C200 organization, is a Pepperdine alumna (’10) and a strong believer in giving back to the school.
Shying away from business organizations during her career, Maderazzo said she advocates for more women mentorships in the workplace.
“I was foolish because if I could go back to my young self — my 25-year old self — and say how important peer community is and what a community of other women and peers does for you, I would’ve been a much more successful executive than I was,” Maderazzo said.
C200 is an invite-only community of successful businesswomen with a mission to advance future women leaders. As someone without many women models to support her business career, Maderazzo said she believes asking for female mentorship in the workplace is vital for young entrepreneurs to do.
“You don’t have to have one-on-one experience on mentorship,” Maderazzo said. “Just really leading by example as role models is so important for women to see.”
The Need for Women to Speak Up
Women in America earn 81% of what their male counterparts earn, according to the International Labor Organization.
In addition, 18% of women experienced harassment and 41% reported discrimination in equal pay and promotions, according to a study published by Gillian SteelFisher et al., in Dec. 2019.
The MeToo movement advocates for more awareness about sexual violence and harassment. While this movement is mainly focused on helping survivors of sexual violence, Maderazzo highlights its impact on women in business at the conference.
“If any influence the MeToo movement had on women’s leadership is teaching women to speak up and use their voice,” Maderazzo said.
Maderazzo also urges women to be confident and to speak up for leadership roles and opportunities in the workplace.
“One of the biggest problems in women’s leadership is that women don’t speak up,” Maderazzo said. “Women don’t ask for roles. Women don’t say to their bosses I want to be a leader, I want to be the CEO of the company, I want this P&L [an executive position responsible for managing the net income of a company] role. They don’t do that.”
Corporations hire men based on potential while women are frequently hired based on their experience, Maderazzo said. Often times, women feel that they need 80 to 90% the qualifications to apply for a job when men would think 50% is enough, Maderazzo said
“I think that’s where women can be stronger and better is really speaking what they want and really saying this is what I want and speaking up in companies,” Maderazzo said. “That’ll help them progress and become better leaders.”
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Future Graziadio Businesswomen Address the Lack of Female Mentorship in the Workplace
Carla Buata, Graziadio MBA student candidate and director of McKesson Pharmaceuticals, is the first place recipient in the C200 Scholar Awards, winning $10,000 for her leadership potential and entrepreneurial spirit at the conference this year.
Exemplary MBA candidates receive these scholar awards, particularly those who demonstrate a commitment to giving back and supporting other women. Buata voiced the need for more women mentors in the workplace.
“Because [McKesson] is primarily male-dominant, I do not have any form of female mentorship or leadership really to guide me in my career as a woman,” Buata said.
With only male mentors in the workplace, Buata said she advocates for more women in leadership in organizations all around.
“Women do bring a certain perspective that is unique in that they’ve succeeded despite things like managing a family throughout their career which is an unspoken burden of managing a family and responsibilities at home and just the general challenges associated with succeeding as a woman in a male dominated company culture,” Buata said.
Lauren Elsner, Graziadio MBA candidate and co-president of Graziadio’s Women’s Business Association, is the second-place recipient of the C200 Scholar Award. Elsner focuses on unifying and empowering future businesswomen at Graziadio.
“Women need to come together and help support each other,” Elsner said. “There’s no way we are going to be successful on our own.”
Fortune 500 is an annual list of companies compiled and published by Fortune magazine, ranking the largest 500 U.S. corporations by their total revenue and respective fiscal years. Female CEOs make up 8% of the Fortune 500 companies, according to Fortune.
With previous work experience in entertainment and technology, Elsner said she was often the only woman in the room and now advocates for increased inclusivity and more women in power.
“In the workplace, especially in America, there needs to be more women in C-suite level positions, as well as politics [and] in leadership all around,” Elsner said.
The Importance of Male Allyship for More Women in Leadership
While the Graziadio Women Business Association works to bring visibility to future Graziadio businesswomen, Elsner also introduced the importance of male allies.
“In a sense it’s about empowering women, but how do we develop male allies?” Elsner said. “How do we make our male allies aware of how they can support women in the workplace?”
Kia Dargahi, Graziadio MBA candidate and director of Male Allyship for Graziadio’s Women’s Business Association, said male allyship is a male who ensures that everyone is heard, acknowledged and recognized for their contributions.
“For male allyship, it’s active listening,” Dargahi said. “It’s speaking with other men in the MBA program, having them join the events [GWBA] throws, [and] having them listen actively.”
However, Dargahi said there needs to be a shift from allyship to standing in solidarity. While allyship often sounds performative and transactional, standing in solidarity is the action of uplifting each other and rooting for each other’s grievances, Dargahi said.
“Having male solidarity or ally means that [men] stand up for [a woman’s] voice too,” Dargahi said. “[Men] back them up when [women] go to the boss. They raise concern when they see sexual harassment or when they see their female peers getting compensated less.”
A Brighter Future Together
With the lack of women in leadership and mentorship roles in the workplace, Buata said her main advice for women is to utilize the community as a resource.
“Lean on other women who you have the opportunity to work with who have a lot of experience,” Buata said. “I think nine times out of 10, if you approach a women in a leadership position, no matter how busy she is, if you just ask nicely and explain, ‘Hey, I’m looking for a mentor just to lean on and for a quarterly check-in,’ I can’t imagine anyone would say no to that.”
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